Home      Scene for Quiz #2, Question #6
Excerpt from This Gulf of Time and Stars, Reunification #1 by Julie E. Czerneda
Coming from DAW Books November 2015.

The Claws & Mouthparts: Complete Interspecies Cuisine was packed to the gills--or whatever breathing apparatus applied—with patrons, this being the supper hour for an abundance of those on Plexis and the menu famed for its surprises. Reservations were required station-months in advance.

   Unless you knew the owner, Huido Maarmatoo’kk.

   Ruti di Sarc squirmed in her seat, her luxurious hair catching glints from candlelight as it twitched in sympathy. “I should be in the kitchen, not out here.”

   Feigning horror, Barac regarded his Chosen. “Don’t let him know, or you will be.” Him being the massive alien heading their way between the tables, one great handling claw balancing a loaded tray, the other clenched with incongruous delicacy around a single flower.

   “I promise.” Dimples appeared on her soft round cheeks.

   Dimples he loved, among all else. The joy of it still amazed him. To have his emptiness not only filled by another, for any Joining would do that, but filled with—

   Those kissable cheeks took on a hint of rose as Ruti shared his thought. Her eyes sparkled.

   --love, like any besotted pair of the Humans he’d once thought fools. Not a Clan expectation. Not a Clan priority or need. Having discovered this feeling, having Ruti…

   Who were the fools? Barac thought.

   His sister Sira’s doing, this ridiculous contentment. And Jason Morgan. Not to mention Huido.

   “Stop! It’s not on the menu!” Huido lifted his claw to save the flower from the beak of an 000. “Stupid grasseater. Go graze somewhere else!” This while his tray-laden claw swung wide for balance, just missing the heads of a pair of Threems at the neighbouring table. “GO!” The bellow sent the 000 and its five companions galloping for the exit with bleats of outrage, their napkins fluttering from their concave chests.

   “Oh my.” Ruti put a hand over her mouth to hide a smile. He really shouldn’t.

   You try to tell him that, Barac responded. The Carasian wouldn’t admit to being sentimental, and few seeing his servo-sized bulk for the first time would credit it, but since Barac’s and Ruti’s Joining, he’d insisted on bringing a fresh rose, a very expensive fresh rose, to their table.

   The special attention might be because he’d introduced them to one another but Barac suspected it had more to do with their grout—for Huido’s species could sense something of the Clan in the M’hir. Theirs was, they’d been told repeatedly, exceptional.

   Most of the other customers did their best to ignore the Carasian, rightly fearing to put their suppers at risk.

   But one turned her head to follow Huido’s progress, smiling.


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